Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
Diana Ross, Lady Sings the Blues
Credit: Lady Sings the Blues: Everett Collection

Lady Sings the Blues

We rate Diana Ross’s big movie debut

THE ROLE Jazz songbird Billie Holiday, whose rocky road to fame included battles against a racist recording industry and drug dependency, plus a stint in prison

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY High. Yes, Ross brought real-life experience as a music superstar to the set, but that doesn’t account for her ability to subtly portray Holiday’s raging teenage insecurities, hardscrabble years as a prostitute, and descent into morphine addiction (depicted in the harrowing scene pictured above, when Holiday breaks down while applying her lipstick). Not to mention that Ross also performs every song in the movie in Holiday-esque fashion.

LEVEL OF SUCCESS 10 (out of 10) Ross so completely inhabits her role that at no point during the film’s two-plus hours do you feel like you’re watching the Supremes singer. She captures Holiday’s every onstage tic, from the triumph of her first public performance to the days when her need for a hit left her trembling at the mic. Ross’ peers were blown away too, rewarding her with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

TASTY TIDBIT Ross’ show-stopping gowns were designed by the legendary Bob Mackie.


Lady Sings the Blues
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